Moooi Nut Chair Marcel Wanders Prop Light Bertjan Pot
April 11th, 2014 by smow

Preparing for his solo exhibition “Pinned Up at the Stedelijk, 25 years of design” clearly helped Marcel Wanders tackle, and defeat, his inner demons.

We can find no other explanation for the transformation from the darkness of Moooi’s 2013 Milan show to the lighter, happier, untroubled, feel of 2014’s.

The formats were and are essentially the same, both based around room contexts backdropped by large format photos of heavily stylised spaces, but whereas last year’s presentation was a menacing neo-sadistic Wes Anderson battles Tim Burton fantasy hell; this year there was free sorbet on offer on the press day.

In two flavours: pink grapefruit or lemon.

The new Moooi products also exude a lighter, more accessible, less troubled, aesthetic.

And a new construction approach: carpentry.

Something that until now simply wasn’t part of the Moooi programme, and which they have realised with an aplomb we honestly wouldn’t have expected.

Not because Moooi can’t do quality or craft, but because in recent years the feel of the collection has been going ever more towards extroverted extremes, to forms, compositions and imagery that have challenged concepts of good taste.

The antithesis if you will of nicely turned chair legs and rounded table edges.

And then came Pinned Up………..

Among the new products the highlight for us was the Zio family of armchair, footstool, sideboard and low table by Marcel Wanders. And principally the sideboard.

An object that doesn’t do anything especially new, when all is said and done it’s a standard mid-60s wood sideboard; however, it does what it does with a wonderful degree of clarity and a self-controlled vanity that is somehow far removed from the its more formal forefathers.

It may be meant ironically. We don’t know. We don’t care. We like it.

Elsewhere the new Taffeta sofa and chair from Alvin Tjitrowirjo caught the attention with their almost colonial charm, the Nut chairs and footstool by Marcel Wanders bring a genuinely fresh form to the over-saturated world of moulded plywood chairs, and so prove that in the furniture world a market is never so over-saturated that one more object can’t be squeezed in, while the Prop Lamps from Bertjan Pot bring the glamour of the stage dressing room to the living room. In a surprisingly incognito fashion one must add for such big, brash objects. And they probably also represented the most theatrical aspect of the Moooi 2014 presentation.

A few impressions.

Posted in Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, Fuorisalone, Fuorisalone Milan Design Week, Milan Design Week, Moooi, Producer, Product, smow blog compact, smow in Milan Tagged with: , , , ,

Marcel Wanders Pinned Up at the Stedelijk 25 years of design
February 1st, 2014 by smow

By way of an addendum to our “5 New Design Exhibitions for February 2014” post…. The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is currently showing “Pinned Up at the Stedelijk, 25 years of design”, the first major retrospective of the work of Dutch designer Marcel Wanders.

Presenting over 400 objects the exhibition promises to cover Marcel Wanders’ complete career since the release of the Set Up Shades lamp in 1989 and in doing so present a chance to better understand the man, his thinking and his works.

In addition to established Wanders’ classics such as the Egg Vase, Lace Table, New Antiques furniture collection and of course his “breakthrough” Knotted Chair from 1996, the exhibition will also present newer works, including the first public viewing of “The Virtual Interiors”, a series of seven fantasy interiors developed by Wanders and presented as digital films.

All we can say is, having witnessed the sensually unbearable Moooi exhibition at Milan 2013, we can’t wait to experience how seven Marcel Wanders’ fantasy landscapes mess with our minds.

In addition to Marcel Wanders’ own work a section of the exhibition has been given over to an exploration of his role as Art Director of Moooi, a company which he of course co-founded and which for us is probably the most interesting aspect of Marcel Wanders’ output. Representing as it does decisions about what good contemporary design is rather than a product formed in cooperation with a producer who invariably has their own manifesto and criteria.

Since his early days as one of those young designers who helped free “Dutch Design” from the shackles of blue and white pottery, bicycles and Gerrit T. Rietveld, Marcel Wanders has been an important figure, not least through his role with and within design collective droog. And while, for us, his work over the years has lost some of the panache and uncontrolled grace of his early projects he remains a talent you can’t ignore. Or at least one who you’d be foolish to ignore.

In that sense, Marcel Wanders – Pinned Up at the Stedelijk, 25 years of design certainly sounds like an exhibition worth viewing should you be in Amsterdam.

Marcel Wanders – Pinned Up at the Stedelijk, 25 years of design runs at the Stedelijk Museum, Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam until Sunday June 15th 2014.

Full details can be found at

Marcel Wanders Pinned Up at the Stedelijk 25 years of design

Marcel Wanders - Pinned Up at the Stedelijk, 25 years of design

Posted in Designer, Droog, Exhibitions and Shows, Moooi, Producer, Product, smow blog compact Tagged with: , , ,

Spring Excellence Talent and Inspiration in Design Premsela at Designhuis Eindhoven
October 22nd, 2011 by smow

During Dutch Design Week 2011 Premsela, the Netherlands Institute for Design and Fashion, opened an exhibition in the Designhuis Eindhoven that both celebrates Dutch Design Week’s 10th anniversary and honours 15 Dutch designers who got their break and/or made their name in Eindhoven.

Rather than simply present the 15 in isolation, curator Miriam van der Lubbe presents them in the context of a young designer they admire and of someone who inspired them.

And so, for example, Richard Hutton is presented together with Gerrit Rietveld and Sjoerd Vroonland.

Or Jürgen Bey and Rianna Makkink with Nienke Sybrandy and Marijke van der Wijst.

Consequently, there is no logical progression to be seen through the exhibition; and also no real undiluted hagiography of the 15 “greats.”

Rather it is more a collection of, more or less, delightful examples of design presented lovingly, if somewhat matter-of-factly.

Which we like.

Its not the works that are important. Its the designers.

And that comes over very clearly.

Obviously the limitation to  Eindhoven means the exhibition doesn’t provide a complete Who’s Who of modern Dutch design, for example, you’ll find no reference to Marcel Wanders, because Eindhoven has played no relevant role in his carear. The exclusion of Hella Jongerius is a touch more difficult to explain.We didn’t ask. It’s unfair to ask a curator to justify every exclusion you personally find odd.

But ultimately for all interested in the story and development of design in Holland over the last 20 years or so, “Spring: Excellence, Talent and Inspiration in Design” is a wonderful starting point.

We do have one small, not complaint but more negative comment – but we’ll save that for a post dedicated to that whole subject. Of which “Spring: Excellence, Talent and Inspiration in Design” is just one example. And not the worst by a long shot.

Spring: Excellence, Talent and Inspiration in Design at Designhuis Eindhoven runs until January 7th 2012.

More details can be found at


Posted in Designer, Dutch Design week, Exhibitions and Shows Tagged with: , , ,

Concrete bowl by Stephan Schulz for betonui
June 28th, 2010 by smow
Vitra Design Museum: The Essence of Things. Design and the Art of Reduction

Vitra Design Museum: The Essence of Things. Design and the Art of Reduction

The (smow)blog team outing to the cardboard furniture workshop was coupled with a visit to the current Vitra Design Museum Exhibition: The Essence of Things. Design and the Art of Reduction.

We must admit to finding it more than a little ironic that an exhibition on “Design and the Art of Reduction” should be taking place in a building designed by Frank Gehry, especially when Tadao Ando’s Conference Pavilion is only some 10m away.

And after the long journey to Weil am Rhein this thought honestly kept us amused for about 4 hours.

The exhibition itself is divided into 12 thematic sections each of which deals with a different aspect of “reduction”; be it elements that the end customer is aware of, for example, geometry or lightness or those that remain hidden from the customer, for example reduction in logistics.

Stephan Schulz: Concrete Bowl

Stephan Schulz: Concrete Bowl

Some 160 objects illustrate the various themes ranging from design classics such as Michael Thonet‘s Chair No. 14 or the Ant Chair by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen onto objects that are less well known – if every bit as interesting – such as Stephan Schulz‘s concrete bowl or Marcel Wanders‘ Knotted Chair for Capellini.

Good design needn’t be complicated, less but more, form follows function – the number of design theories that encapsulate the practice of “reduction” are as numerous as they are legendary: yet at design show after design show we are confronted with products that attempt to win us over through their complexity and extravagance.

We also don’t know why that should be, but we suspect it has a lot to do with a saturated market and the associated increasing role that the internet plays in ensuring that your – probably completely superfluous – work is seen.

Which design blog is going to feature Jasper Morrison‘s Ply-Chair when they have photo of a bookcase that looks like to two paradise birds engaging in a mating ritual atop Carmen Miranda?

Ok we would. But not many others.

For us the true art of reduction in design is when the designer reduces the volume of the product down to the absolute minimum – be it through the use of a new material, innovative joining of the individual elements or through reducing the exterior measurements.

.03 by Maarten Van Seeveren

.03 by Maarten Van Severen

One particular example that occurs to us being Maarten van Severen’s’ .03 with its integrated compound spring supports that give the chair its comfort and stability without unduly adding to the weight, volume or outer dimensions.

However as the exhibition “The Essence of Things. Design and the Art of Reduction” ably demonstrates  reduction can involve other processes.

Joe Colombo’s No 281 lamp, Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s tea service or Donald Judd’s Chair 84 proving nice examples of what can be achieved with the necessary talent and motivation.

On the negative side we must add that for our taste the exhibition highlighted the work of Charles and Ray Eames a little too heavily – specifically the dedication of the complete section “development” to their work looks suspiciously like a bit of editorial shoe-horning on the curators part.

That aside, for all interested in the design process, and especially where the difference between “designer” furniture – i.e. those furniture pieces where a targeted design process occurs- and cheaper, generic products lies, the Vitra Design Museum exhibition “The Essence of Things. Design and the Art of Reduction.” is definitely worth the trip.
The Essence of Things. Design and the Art of Reduction at the Vitra Design Museum runs until September 19th 2010. More details can be found at

Posted in Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, Fritz Hansen, Producer, Product, Thonet, Weil am Rhein Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Stone by Marcel Wanders for Kartell
August 7th, 2009 by julius
Holland. It all looks like this you know

Holland. It all looks like this you know

It’s not all hard work you know.

Just read a nice little article on dutch design portal in which Marie-Luce Bree, deputy director of the Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam, talks about their photo project “New Greetings From”; which basically follows the tried and tested method of getting members of the public to submit photos and then using the best to create an exhibition.

Stone by Marcel Wanders for Kartell

Stone by Marcel Wanders for Kartell

In detail, “New Greetings From” requests contributors to submit photos showing their interpretation of what Holland look like, and that the image is positive.

But hey isn’t everything in Holland!

And what does Holland look like? According to Marie-Luce Bree what often matters most to people is “nature, and even cows and tulips”


And on the “New Greetings From” website, we’ve even found a few windmills.

What we’ve yet to see, however, is much in the way of Dutch furniture design.

Panton Chair by Verner Panton for Vitra

Panton Chair by Verner Panton for Vitra

Which is a shame.

For while Denmark positively gloats over it’s furniture design heritage, Holland is much more reserved.
Go to Copenhagen, Aarhus or Aalborg and you can’t move without stumbling over the works of Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen or Hans Wegner.

Indeed, the last time we were in Copenhagen we saw so many Panton chairs everything we saw started to take on a flowing, wave form.

In Holland, however, the local appreciation of the designers is much less. And that despite the talent on offer, the presence of self-confident producers such as moooi or droog and the strong interest among Dutch people for well designed and crafted designer furniture.

Bovist by Hella Jongerius for Vitra

Bovist by Hella Jongerius for Vitra

At the end of the day original designer furniture is just as at home in Amsterdam as in Copenhagen.

So we’d like to say to the peoples of the Netherlands, take part in “New Greetings From”, but take pictures that do Hella Jongerius, Marcel Wanders or Mart Stam proud. Make your dutch designers as famous and as culturally important as the Danes there’s.

And yes it’s OK to photograph the furniture next to a windmill, if you really must.

Posted in Design Tourism, smow Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vitra, smow and USM Haller - contrast and harmony
June 12th, 2009 by julius
A selection from the Vitra catalogue in the smow system USM Haller sideboard

A selection from the Vitra catalogue in the smow system USM Haller sideboard(Photo Christin Bargel)

It must be a summer thing. Not only are our newspapers and magazines full of authors recommending their chums books, but first design observer portrayed their reading tips and then design sojourn brought out their “30 Essential Books for Industrial Designers”

Obviously the design world is planning downing tools and spending the long hot summer that awaits us reading.

Which is fine by us.

For, in addition to supplying designer furniture, we at smow also stock a wide range of books on and about design and designers.

In addition to the complete Vitra collection – ranging from coffee table, photo collections such as “the furniture of charles and ray eames” to the more informative and beautifully designed Project Vitra – and Kartell publications such as “kARTell 150 items, 150 artworks” – an outrageous  photographic journey through the Kartell catalogue in the company of some of the most celebrated fashion photographers – smow can supply all books published by and about our partners and their designers be it Moooi, Moormann or Artemide.

Just ask we are always happy to advise.

Vitra, smow and USM Haller - contrast and harmony

Vitra, moooi and USM Haller - contrast and harmony(Photo Christin Bargel)

And, it goes without saying, we can also supply the bookcases in which to store or display your new purchase.

The USM Haller unit shown in the photos is a (smow)original which we are more than happy to re-create for you. Or you can order one in the more conventional monotone.

Other bookcases available from smow, include:

Buchstabler from Moormann

Bookworm from Kartell

Lovely Rita from Kartell

FNP from Moormann

Posted in smow offline Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LED Raimond Hanging Lamp by Raimond Puts for moooi
April 22nd, 2009 by julius
Europelampe range by  for moooi

Eurolantern range by moooi works for moooi

Whereas the main Salone exhibition opened today, Wednesday; a lot of those producers and designers who are exhibiting “off-Salone” opened their doors on Tuesday evening.

Tree lamp range by   for moooi

Tree lamp range new from moooi works for moooi

Among them dutch producer Moooi who launched their forthcoming selection in the Superstudio Pia on the Supertrendy Via Tortona

And we must admit to being more than little impressed by many – though not all – of the designs.

In particular the Eurolantern, Raimond and Tree Lamp ranges caught our imagintion.

We’ll let the pictures speak for us … all designs will be available from the middle of 2009, and through

LED Raimond Hanging Lamp (here just the large version) by Raimond Puts for moooi

LED Raimond Hanging Lamp (here just the large version) by Raimond Puts for moooi

Posted in smow in Milan Tagged with: , , ,